“As we mark World Water Day, the alarming statistics underlying water scarcity are worth repeating. Worldwide 2.7 billion people are currently affected by water shortages,” Manish Bapna, acting president of the World Resources Institute (WRI), and Betsy Otto, director of WRI’s Aqueduct Project, write in a Forbes opinion piece, noting that population growth, increasing food demand, and climate change threaten access to water. “Clean, abundant water is essential for life and economic growth. Since it is a finite resource, we need to find solutions that will ensure we can use water more efficiently and mange water systems more wisely,” they state.
Water and Sanitation
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) provides a fact sheet (.pdf) detailing its efforts to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in the developing world. According to the fact sheet, the MCC and its partner countries “have prioritized WASH sector development,” and “MCC has invested $793 million in WASH-related projects in nine partner countries” (3/19).
“This year on World Water Day, Thursday, March 22, the United Nations highlights the critical role water plays in food security, at a time when water supplies are already under severe strain in many parts of the world,” VOA News reports. As the world’s population expands, “the demand for water is growing along with the demand for food,” and agriculture accounts for 70 percent of water use worldwide, the news service notes (Baragona, 3/21). Additional information on World Water Day, which is coordinated by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), is available online from U.N. Water (3/22).
IRIN examines malnutrition in Chad, writing, “Hovering at around 20 percent in some places, Kanem Region in western Chad is well-known for having some of the world’s highest continual severe acute malnutrition rates,” and, “unless something is done to improve the country’s ‘dysfunctional’ health system (as described by half a dozen interviewees), these malnutrition rates are unlikely to change significantly.” The news service “spoke to Ministry of Health staff, aid workers, government officials and mothers to find out if anything can be done to wean Chad from its dependence on emergency nutrition interventions.”
The U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) recently launched the Global Water Solidarity Platform “at the World Water Forum in Marseille, France, where 20,000 participants from the private, public and non-profit sectors [met] to address the water crisis,” according to a UNDP press release. “The Global Water Solidarity Platform, which is supported by the governments of France and Switzerland, connects local authorities and organizations to take action to solve water and sanitation challenges, through which, for example, municipal water authorities in more developed countries can take direct action to support the improvement of water and sanitation services in developing contexts by contributing one percent of their revenue or budgets,” the press release states (3/15).
“We don’t honor God when 4,500 children die every day — but they do — from the lack of something so simple, each of us takes it for granted: a safe glass of water,” Rabbi Jack Bemporad, executive director of the Center for Interreligious Understanding, and journalist Susan Barnett write in Huffington Post’s “Religion” blog. “Current U.S. funding for water and sanitation development amounts to less than one one-hundredth of a percent of the federal budget,” they write, adding, “Yet for every dollar invested, there’s an economic return of $8.” They continue, “With all the good work the faiths do, from malnutrition to malaria, it’s all being undercut by the overarching absence of clean water and sanitation. Not prioritizing the global water crisis defies logic. It prevents productivity, increases poverty and inequality for women.”
Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s “budget includes a big boost in spending on reducing malnutrition,” with an increase for malnutrition programs of “58 percent in fiscal 2012-13 to 158 billion rupees, or about $3 billion,” the Wall Street Journal’s “India Real Time” blog reports. “Despite its rapid economic growth, India has struggled with persistently high rates of malnutrition, far worse than many worse-performing economies,” according to the blog.
“A long-planned project to find out whether vaccination is feasible in the midst of an ongoing cholera outbreak in Haiti has been stymied — temporarily, its proponents insist –” after “a Port-au-Prince radio station reported that the impending vaccination effort was actually a ‘medical experiment on the Haitian people’ — a potentially incendiary charge,” NPR’s health blog “Shots” reports.
PSI’s “Healthy Lives” blog presents global health-related excerpts of USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah’s annual letter that was published on March 9. Shah touches on programs to improve infant and child health; water, sanitation and hygiene; malaria prevention; HIV/AIDS care; and health care in several countries, including Afghanistan, Ghana and Ethiopia, according to the blog (3/9).
Inter Press Service has published a two-part series, made possible with support from the Fund for Investigative Journalism in Haiti, examining sanitation services in Haiti since the earthquake in 2010. The first article looks at the installation of mobile toilets in displaced persons camps following the earthquake, and says that as relief organizations pull out of the country, the toilets are being removed or left to overflow (Jerome/Daudier, 3/7).